As predictable as thunder following lightning, former CIA director William Gates recently declared that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s increasing assertiveness demonstrate the need for the U.S. government to remain an ever-growing, more powerful national-security state. Gates’s declaration appeared in an op-ed in the March 3, 2022, issue of the Washington Post. He also pointed to Iran and North Korea as subsidiary threats to U.S. “national security.”
Gates has it all wrong. The worst mistake the American people have ever made was permitting their federal government to be converted to a national-security state. That mistake not only contributed to the destruction of the rights and liberties of the American people: It also plunged our nation into an orgy of death and destruction in foreign countries as well as monetary and fiscal debauchery here at home.
Today, Americans would be best off ridding our nation of its national-security state and restoring our founding governmental system of a limited-government republic. For the first 150 years of our nation’s history, the federal government’s powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution. Thus, Americans lived under a government that lacked the constitutional authority to engage in such dark-side activities as assassination, kidnapping, coups, torture, indefinite detention, mass secret surveillance, invasions, wars of aggression, and undeclared wars.
That all changed after World War II, when U.S. officials decided to convert the federal government to a national-security state, a governmental system in which officials wield omnipotent, dark-side powers, such as the ones listed above. To put things into perspective, national-security states include North Korea, China, Russia, Egypt, and post–World War II United States.
It’s important to note that the Constitution was not amended to provide for the monumental transformation to a national-security state, but the Supreme Court, recognizing the overwhelming power of the military-intelligence establishment, knew that as a practical matter, it could never enforce constitutional restrictions against the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, the three principal components of America’s national-security establishment. Thus, practically from the start of the transformation, the Supreme Court simply acquiesced to the new order of things and passively agreed that all of those dark-side activities were fully supported by the Constitution.
The Cold War racket
There is an important characteristic of every national-security state: It needs big official enemies in order to scare the citizenry into supporting not only the existence
of the national-security establishment but also the ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer-funded largesse flooding into the military-intelligence establishment.
In the early days of America’s national-security state, the big official enemies that were used to scare people were “godless communism” and the Soviet Union, the principal member being Russia — yes, the same Russia that former CIA director Gates is today using as a justification for the continued existence of the national-security state and the ever-increasing flood of taxpayer money into the coffers of the U.S. “defense” industry. Later on, Red China was made a scary bugaboo, too, but it never seemed as scary as the Soviet Union.
The Cold War notion was that there was an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow whose aim was to take over the United States and the rest of the world. Given that this supposed conspiracy involved communist national-security states that wielded omnipotent powers, the argument was that to defeat the conspiracy, it was necessary for the United States to become a national-security state, too, which would enable federal officials to fight back with the same omnipotent, dark-side powers as the communist national-security states.
Thus, the so-called Cold War was born, an era of ever-increasing hostility toward Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba, and other communist or socialist nations, including nations that simply chose to remain neutral with respect to the Cold War. The mindset of the U.S. national-security establishment was that in the war against “godless communism,” there was no room for neutrality. A nation was either with us or against it.
The destruction of rights and liberties
Constitutional restrictions on government power were thrown out the window. The idea was that the Constitution was not a suicide pact. Following it meant doom through a communist takeover of the United States. Thus, the Supreme Court declined to enforce the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement on the U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. It also declined to interfere with the national-security establishment’s initiation of regime-change operations in foreign lands, including through assassination.
As the years passed, the amount of taxpayer-funded money flooding into the coffers of the national-security establishment grew exponentially. The Cold War and America’s burgeoning welfare state were producing an ever-growing orgy of federal spending, debt, and monetary debauchery.
Through it all, there was something important that most Americans failed to notice: The conversion to a national-security state destroyed their rights and liberties as a free people. Given the omnipotent power of a national-security state, including the now-legal powers of assassination, torture, indefinite detention, and mass surveillance against American citizens themselves, there was no way for Americans to legitimately consider themselves a free people. No one who lives in a national-security state, whether it’s Russia, China, North Korea, Egypt, Cuba, or the United States, can legitimately be considered a free people. Freedom necessarily requires a limited-government type of system, the type of system on which our nation was founded and which existed for some 150 years.
Thus, notice the irony: Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cuba never took away any of the rights and liberties of the American people. Americans lost their rights and liberties to their very own government, a government that scared them to death in what will go down in history as one of the biggest rackets ever — the racket of the Cold War.
JFK’s vision for America
A short-lived watershed period came in the early 1960s. President John F. Kennedy had come into office as pretty much a standard Cold Warrior, buying into the notion that America was in grave risk of falling to the Red Menace. By 1962 and 1963, however, Kennedy had achieved a monumental “breakthrough,” which enabled him to recognize the Cold War for the racket it was. Deciding to take on the national-security establishment, Kennedy effectively declared an end to the Cold War racket and announced that America would henceforth live in peaceful and friendly coexistence with the Russians, the Soviets, the Chinese, and the rest of the communist world.
Needless to say, Kennedy’s new vision for America did not sit well with the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. They knew that Kennedy was almost certain to win the 1964 presidential election, which would mean that he would have five years to implement his vision. They knew that if JFK’s vision were to prevail, the justification for a national-security state would cease to exist.
The war was on. Kennedy had already vowed to rip the CIA to shreds. And by the time the Cuban Missile Crisis was over, he held the entire military establishment in disdain. By the same token, the Pentagon and the CIA loathed JFK because he had, in their minds, displayed cowardice during the CIA’s invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, had surrendered Cuba permanently to the Reds to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis, and was now committing the cardinal sin of playing nice with Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union.
As I detail in my new book,
An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, JFK’s war with the national-security establishment came to an end on November 22, 1963, when the national-security establishment initiated one of its patented regime-change operations in Dallas, one that involved its dark-side power of assassination. Since the new president, Lyndon Johnson, was on the same Cold War page as the national-security establishment, the racket was back on, with ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer-funded largesse flooding into the coffers of the “defense” industry, especially to fund LBJ’s war against the Reds in Vietnam.
The ostensible end of the Cold War
In the period from 1989 to 1991, the unexpected occurred. The Soviet Union unilaterally declared an end to the Cold War, withdrew its forces from East Germany and Eastern Europe, and dismantled. The U.S. national-security establishment’s Cold War racket was over, or at least it seemed. Russia wanted nothing more than to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the United States.
But the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA were not about to give up their omnipotent position with the federal government. They were not about to let Americans have their limited-government republic back.
That’s when they went into the Middle East and began killing, injuring, maiming, and destroying people on a continuous basis, knowing full well that ultimately the victims would retaliate with acts of terrorism. The killing spree began with the Gulf War, when U.S. officials turned on their old partner and ally, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and converted him into an official enemy, one that was used to scare the American people for the next ten years, during which U.S. officials imposed a brutal system of economic sanctions on the Iraqi people, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children. In 1995, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright declared that the deaths of half-a-million children from the sanctions were “worth it.” By “it” she meant regime-change efforts against Saddam Hussein.
It was at this point that it became clear that the conversion of the federal government had stultified the individual consciences of the American people. This was manifested by widespread indifference to the killings of all those innocent children. Americans simply didn’t care. There was virtually no condemnation or even mild criticism of Albright’s infamous statement, which reflected the mindset of the entire national-security state bureaucracy.
It should be pointed out, however, that this nationwide stultification of conscience didn’t afflict everyone. An American man named Bert Sacks decided to intentionally violate the U.S. sanctions on Iraq by taking medicine and other supplies to the Iraqi people. U.S. officials fined him $10,000 and hounded him for years trying to collect it, unsuccessfully. Moreover, three high UN officials, stricken by crises of conscience, resigned their positions owing to what they called U.S. genocide involving those Iraqi children. In what can only be called a banality of evil, U.S. bureaucrats ridiculed them.
The war on terrorism
Post–Cold War U.S. interventionism in the Middle East succeeded in producing some terrorist retaliation, but it simply wasn’t enough to deeply scare the American people. There was, for example, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, and the attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa.
But then came the 9/11 attacks, which succeeded in scaring Americans to death. Replacing the Cold War’s “war on communism,” the “war on terrorism” was now on. The continued existence of the national-security state was now assured, along with ever-increasing taxpayer funds flooding into the “defense” industry. What else could protect Americans from all those terrorists (or Muslims) around the world who just hated America for its “freedom and values.”
The “war on terrorism” was used to justify the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which were regime-change operations that succeeded in killing, maiming, injuring, torturing, or destroying untold numbers of people who had had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the many years of deadly and destructive mayhem, there was absolutely no sympathy among American statists for the Afghan people or the Iraqi people. In fact, it was the exact opposite: All the sympathy and support was given to the invaders, occupiers, and conquerors. One of the most popular mantras among American people became “Support the troops.”
Thus, it’s reasonable to ask whether the current outpouring of support among American statists for the Ukrainian people arises out of a genuine sense of conscience or instead is a direct result of indoctrination and propaganda by the U.S. national-security establishment. If it arises from a genuine act of conscience, then why is there not any condemnation or even mild criticism for all of the death, mayhem, and destruction that has been wreaked — and continues to be wreaked — on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq by the Pentagon and the CIA, including all the wedding parties that U.S. forces bombed during their wars. After all, no one can deny that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is no different from what the Pentagon and the CIA did in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Cold War racket continues
Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the CIA were not ready to let go of their official Cold War enemies, China and Russia. Under President Trump, they launched a vicious trade war against China, with the aim of impoverishing the Chinese people. Even worse, they used NATO, which was nothing more than a Cold War dinosaur, to absorb former members of the Warsaw Pact. That enabled them to establish U.S. military bases, missiles, tanks, and other weaponry ever-closer to the Russian border.
Let’s return for a moment to President Kennedy’s term in office. After the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, the Pentagon and the CIA were pressuring Kennedy to initiate a full-scale military invasion of Cuba in order to remove Cuba’s communist regime from power and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship. The Joint Chiefs of Staff even unanimously proposed a false-flag operation to Kennedy named Operation Northwoods. Kennedy refused to succumb to the pressure.
But Castro knew what the Pentagon and the CIA were up to. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter an invasion or to provide the Cubans with the means to defend themselves in the event of an invasion. The Pentagon and the CIA were livid. If Kennedy had done what they had been pressuring him to do, the crisis would not have arisen. Throughout the crisis, they were pressuring Kennedy to bomb and invade Cuba. Their position, which was shared by JFK, was that America should not have to live with nuclear missiles pointed at it from only 90 miles away.
Once the Pentagon and the CIA began using NATO to absorb Eastern European regimes, Russia repeatedly told U.S. officials that its position was the same as the U.S. position on Cuba: Russia would never permit U.S. missiles to be installed on Russia’s borders.
The Pentagon and the CIA simply smiled. They knew that if they continued moving eastward and finally threatened to absorb Ukraine into NATO, Russia would be placed in the untenable position of choosing between two courses of action: (1) Peacefully permit U.S. military bases, missiles, tanks, and weaponry to be installed on Russia’s border or (2) invade Ukraine in a regime-change operation to prevent that from happening.
Not surprisingly, Russia chose option (2). In other words, if NATO had been abolished at the end of
the Cold War, or if the Pentagon and the CIA had guaranteed that Ukraine would not be absorbed into NATO, there would never have been a Russian invasion of Ukraine. All those dead people in Ukraine, both Russian and Ukrainian, would be alive today but for the political gamesmanship of the Pentagon and the CIA.
Moreover, let’s not forget something important: Any unexpected mishap between Russian and American forces in that part of the world could easily lead to all-out nuclear war. The Pentagon and the CIA have been willing to take that risk.
And look at where we are now. As former CIA director Gates points out, we now have a perfect storm of big new and old official enemies that can keep the national-security state racket going indefinitely. Red China. Russia. Terrorism. Islam. North Korea. Cuba. Iran. Syria. Maybe even Vietnam again.
What we need in America today is a giant breakthrough among the American people, just like the one that President Kennedy experienced — one that entails a great awakening of consciousness and conscience — one that causes the American people to demand the restoration of their limited-government republic and the dismantling of the national-security state. It’s the only way to get our nation back on the road toward liberty, peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony with the people of the world.
**By Jacob G. Hornberger